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Pitstone (including part of Barley End, Frithsden, part of Horton and Nettleden)

"PITSTON, PITLESTON, PITTLESTHORN, more anciently PIGHTLESTORNE, and PINCELESTORNE, with its Hamlets of Nettleden, Frisden, part of Barley-End (in Ivinghoe) and a small part of Horton, is situated on the eastern verge of the County towards Hertfordshire; being bounded, on the North, by Slapton and Ivinghoe; on the East, by Ivinghoe and part of Hertfordshire; as it is also on the South, and on the West, by Marsworth and Cheddington; being about seven miles in length and one in breadth, including the park; which comprises about 385 acres in Pitston, and 258 in Ivinghoe, besides the Hertfordshire portion thereof, altogether computed at about fifteen hundred acres."
[The History and Antiquities of the County of Buckingham, by George Lipscomb, 1847]

"The hamlet of Frithsden or Friesden, now in Great Berkhampstead parish, Hertfordshire, was included in this parish in 1831. Its manorial history, however, is that of Little Gaddesden, and it belonged, with the latter manor, to the college of Ashridge...

Nettleden was a chapelry in this parish until 1895, at which date it was formed into a parish and transferred to Hertfordshire, under which county it has been described."
[© copyright of the editors of The Victoria Histories of the Counties of England]

Map showing the location of the parish


Bibliography Church History Names, Geographical
Cemeteries Church Records Photographs
Census History & Descriptions

Bibliography

The following reference sources have been used in the construction of this page, and may be referred to for further detail. Most if not all of these volumes are available in the Reference section of the County Library in Aylesbury.

"Buckinghamshire Contributions for Ireland 1642", Wilson J., 1983.
"Buckinghamshire Returns of the Census of Religious Worship 1851", Legg E. ed., 1991, ISBN 0 901198 27 7.
"Magna Britannia: Buckinghamshire", Lysons S. and Lysons D., 1806.
"The History and Antiquities of the County of Buckingham", Lipscomb G., 1847
"The Place-Names of Buckinghamshire", Mawer A. and Stenton F.M., 1925.
"The Victoria History of the Counties of England: Buckinghamshire", Page W. ed., 1905-1928
"War Memorials and War Graves: Cottesloe Hundred, Bucks, Volume 2", Peter Quick.

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Cemeteries

The following Monumental Inscriptions are available as publications or as part of a Society library:

* = material held in a Society library is generally available for loan to all members either via post, or by collection at a meeting

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Census

In 1642 there were 26 people named in the tax returns for contributions for Ireland. 23 of them paid a total sum of £4.10.10. The remaining 3, John Sebroke minister, Roger Brewer and Roger Duncombe, were assessed for a total of £100, but did not pay.

In 1798 the Posse Comitatus listed 71 men between the ages of 16 and 60 in Pitstone.

In the earliest government census of 1801, the following populations were recorded:

Census Year Population
of Pistone
Population
of Nettleden
Population
of Parish
1801* 275 85 360
1811* 288 101 389
1821* 353 108 461
1831* 436 142 578
1841 424 98 522
1851 438 107 545
1861 457 124 581
1871 479 133 612
1881 433 111 544
1891 459 115 574
1901 396 88 484

* = No names were recorded in census documents from 1801 to 1831.
** = Census documents from 1911 to 2001 are only available in summary form. Names are witheld under the 100 year rule.

Microfilm copies of all census enumerators' notebooks for 1841 to 1891 are held at the Local Studies Libraries at Aylesbury and Milton Keynes, as well as centrally at the PRO. A table of 19th century census headcount by parish is printed in the VCH of Bucks, Vol.2, pp 96-101.

Availability of census transcripts and indexes.

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Church History

Details of the stained glass in the church can be found on the following web sites (the site includes many photos):

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Church Records

Pitstone

The original copies of the parish registers for St Mary, Pitstone have been deposited in the Buckinghamshire Record Office in Aylesbury, and they hold the following years:

Event Dates covered
Christenings 1677 - 1968
Marriages 1653 - 1972
Burials 1653 - 1955

Copies or indexes to the parish registers are available from societies as follows:

Event
Society Library*
Dates covered
Society
Marriages
1576 - 1837
Buckinghamshire Genealogical Society
Banns
1827 - 1869
Buckinghamshire Genealogical Society

* = material held in a Society library is generally available for loan to all members either via post, or by collection at a meeting

Nettleden

Copies or indexes to the parish registers are available from societies as follows:

Event
Society Library*
Dates covered
Society
Marriages
1600 - 1837
Buckinghamshire Genealogical Society

* = material held in a Society library is generally available for loan to all members either via post, or by collection at a meeting

An ecclesiastical census was carried out throughout England on 30 March 1851 to record the attendance at all places of worship. These returns are in the Buckinghamshire Record Office and have been published by the Buckinghamshire Record Society (vol 27). The returns for Pitstone showed the following numbers:

Church Attendance
Pitstone, St Mary No data is given for 30 March 1851

Average attendance is recorded as follows:

40 - General Congregation
45 - Sunday Scholars

14 - Afternoon General Congregation

140 - Evening General Congregation

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History & Descriptions

Pitstone was described in 1806 in "Magna Britannia" as follows:

PITSTON, anciently PIGHTELSTHORN, in the hundred of Cotslow and Deanery of Muresley lies about ten miles east of Aylesbury and about six miles from Dunstable, in Bedfordshire. The chief property of Pitston was given to the monastery of Asheridge founded at the extremity of this parish on the borders of Hertfordshire, in the year 1283, by Edmund earl of Cornwall. The founder had a palace or castle at Asheridge, the keep of which is to be seen not far from the site of the monastery: either in this palace or in the convent, king Edward I. kept his Christmas in the year 1290, and stayed five weeks, during which time he held a parliament at Asheridge. The chronicle of Dunstable priory records the grievances which the inhabitants of that town endured by being obliged to furnish provisions for the monarch and his court. The earl of Cornwall died at Asheridge in the year 1300, having given the manors of Pitston and Asheridge to the convent, which consisted of a rector and 20 canons of a religious order called Bonhommes, who wore a blue habit. The founder gave them, amongst other donations, a portion of Christ's blood; in honour of which the convent was founded. This precious deposit proved a mine of wealth; persons of all ranks flocking hither from the most distant parts out of devotion towards so sacred a relic, to the great enrichment of the canons. This pretended blood was publickly shewn at Paul's cross by the bishop of Rochester, on the 24th of February, 1538, and proved to be nothing more than honey clarified and coloured. The lands belonging to the monastery of Asheridge were estimated, in 1538, at 416 l. 14s. 4d. clear yearly value. The site was kept for some time in the hands of the crown, and the monastery became a royal palace. It was the frequent residence of Queen Elizabeth when princess, in the reigns of her father and brother; she had a grant of it from her brother in 1552, and was residing at Asheridge when taken into custody by Sir Edward Hastings, Sir Thomas Cornwall, and Sir Edward Southwell, on suspicion of being concerned in Sir Thomas Wyat's conspiracy, and, though confined by illness, was obliged (such was the strictness of their commission) to rise from her bed and set off for London in the Queen's litter. In 1574, Asheridge, with the lands which had belonged to the convent, was granted in exchange to Dudley and Ayscough, who acted, it is probable, as trustees for Henry Lord Cheyne of Toddington, to whom it was immediately conveyed. His widow sold this estate, in 1600, to Sir Randall Crewe and others; by whom it was conveyed, in 1602, to Lord Chancellor Ellesmere, ancestor of the present proprietor, the earl of Bridgwater, who inherits also the manors of Morrants, with Narnets and Butlers, in Pitston. It is probable that these are the names of families who held lands under the monastery.

The collegiate church, in which lay the remains of Lord Chief Justice Bryan, Sir Thomas and Sir John Denham, and other persons of note, was demolished in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. The great hall and cloisters were entire in the year 1800. The hall, which was 44 feet by 22, had a rich gothic roof, and pointed windows; and was enriched with fluted pilasters on the sides. This beautiful speciment of ancient architecture, though to all appearance in good repair, was pulled down by the late duke of Bridgwater, and the materials sold piece-meal: the cloisters, which were to have shared the same fate, were standing in the year 1802 after the demolition of the other buildings, but had sustained considerable injury by the pulling down of the adjoining walls. The roof of the cloisters was of Toternhoe stone, wrought with various ornaments, which remained very entire. Among these occurred the arms of the founder and those of the monastery (a holy lamb standing on the sepulchre and holding a banner.) The side walls were adorned with paintings in fresco, well designed, representing the history of our Saviour. Some of the figures had been well preserved, but most of them had sustained more or less injury from the damp. The additions which had been made to the conventual buildings about the reign of Queen Elizabeth, were pulled down also by the late duke, who it is said intended building a new mansion on, or near, the site of the monastery. Asheridge park is of large extent, well wooded, and abundantly stocked with deer. Pitston church, which is about four mile distant from Asheridge, contains nothing remarkable: it was consolidated with Ivinghoe in 1684, but the parishes continue separate.

[Correction/Addition at the end of Magna Britannia states "The cloisters at Asheridge were afterwards pulled down (by direction of the late Duke of Bridgwater) and the materials sold; some of these were used for mending roads."]

The great tithes, which belonged to the convent of Asheridge, are now the property of the earl of Bridgwater, who is patron of the consolidated vicarages of Ivinghoe and Pitston.

At Nettleden, a hamlet of Pitston, about six miles distant from the parish church, on the road from Gaddesdon to Hemel Hempstead, is a chapel of ease, which was consecrated in 1470. It was the burial place of Sir George Cotton, vice chamberlain to King Edward VI. who died in 1545.

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Names, Geographical

The name Pitstone means 'Picel's thornbush' (in 1086 the name is recorded as Pincelestorne).

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Photographs

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